The one disappointing thing about the Nintendo event from this morning: we still don’t have the exact list of launch titles, with Nintendo instead opting to draw attention to the system’s “launch window,” the several week period between its March 27 launch and E3. What are you gonna do? Me, I played a couple of these “launch window” games right after the press conference. Here’s a quick breakdown of what I saw, and played.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
This is the game of the Nintendo 3DS, by a country mile. It helps that Ocarina of Time is widely regarded as one of the greatest games of all time, and now Nintendo has given it the 3D treatment. The graphics are generally improved over the original N64 version, and that’s before you get to the 3DS-specific enhancements. Yes, it’s in 3D, and it looks pretty great, as good as any other 3DS game I’ve played. Another 3DS enhancement taps into the system’s built-in accelerometer. When Link equips the slingshot you can aim the traditional way, moving about the Circle Pad, but you can also move the entire 3DS around to “aim” the slingshot. You could, of course, just lock on with L-targeting, if that’s your playing style. Otherwise, it’s the same Ocarina you played all those years ago, and that’s very much a good thing.
Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition
This was another star of the show today. Again, it’s more or less a straight port of its forebear, but 3DS-ified. Besides the 3D effect, there’s a new perspective (read: camera angle) called Dramatic that puts the camera over your character’s right shoulder at an angle. Presumably it’s to better show off the game engine and 3D effect. The other big change for the game has to do with the control. Capcom has implemented a sort of “easy mode” in the controls. The optional mode puts combos and special moves on the bottom screen, the touchscreen. Rather than circle quater-clockwise and press the A button simultaneously (or whatever) you merely tap the screen, sit back and watch. So, you tap “hadouken” and Ken will do a hadouken, tap “dragon punch” and he’ll do a dragon punch, etc. Again, this mode is optional, so you can control the game normally if you prefer. Real men don’t use simple mode, etc.
Anyhow, I managed to get a quick video of the game in action, showing off this new-fangled control scheme. Judge as you like.
Ridge Racer 3D
Have you played a Ridge Racer game in the past few years? Then you’ve played this. It’s your typical arcade racer, and the 3D effect helps in the same way that it helps Pilotwings Resort, by giving you the sensation of “being there,” for lack of a better term. Namco did tell me that they’re trying to almost design the game around the 3D effect, trying to make it a proper part of the gameplay as opposed to it merely being a gimmick.
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D
Judging by the 10 minute or so demo, this is basically a full-fledged game based on the mini-game of the same name from the main series. What a sentence. I played as Chris in the main Spanish town from Resident Evil 4, fighting Los Ganados (the Zealots). Nothing too crazy here: it controlled just fine and the 3D looked OK (not as good as Zelda or Pilotwings).
Pro Evolution Soccer 2011
I’m only mentioning this because I’d like to congratulate Konami for picking Barcelona vs. Real Madrid as the demo game. I asked the Konami reps if the game will support any of the popular mods and edits that fans have put together, and they said they weren’t sure yet. I can’t imagine how that would work with the 3DS, but at least Konami didn’t flip out when I brought up the mod community. I took that as a tacit approval, if nothing else.
I’d say those were the big games on display. There was also Pilotwings: Resort, but I already talked about the game at length last week.
So if I had to guess, I’d say it’s very hard to beat Zelda as the 3DS’ “killer app,” but that only has a vague “2011” release date; who knows when it will come out. As shown by the new Stret Fighter camera angle, not every game “needs” the 3D effect, but those that benefit from it—racing games, including Pilotwings: Resort—genuniey benefit from it. Talking with a few of the companies today, it would appear that they’re not merely interested in copying Hollywood’s tract of, “Oh, here’s a movie we’ve already shot in 2D, let’s take a long weekend to 3D-ifiy it.” Rather, they seem to be aware of its potential to enhance gameplay beyond the “ooh, that looks neat” factor.
Let’s not forget that you can always turn off the 3D effect whenever you want if you’re keen on this whole 3D business.